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Stratford Library, HS Sports Among Budget's Winners

Meanwhile, advocates for Stratford Animal Control are denied a $17,000 funding boost.

Stratford Town Council members passed a budget Tuesday that will apparently restore freshman high school sports, ensure that the is plenty busy on Sundays, and clean up the town's sidewalks and foreclosed properties.

By a 6-to-4 vote, Council members approved an amended operating budget for fiscal year 2013 totaling $190,861,641.

The total is about $270,000 less than , and about $2.3 million more than the budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.

The mill rate, also approved by the same 6-to-4 vote, will increase the average annual tax bill by about $58.

Council members were able to trim the mayor's budget due in large part to $222,000 in realized savings for medical insurance. (Scroll down for a complete chart of last-minute department cuts and increases.)

Councilman Jason Santi (D-4) announced the amended items, which included $40,000 more for the Board of Education budget. Those monies will be used to restore freshman sports, according to Santi.

Fellow party member Stephanie Philips (D-2) said it's not the Council's place to say how the school board should or will spend its part of the budget, which came to $93,992,529. Furthermore, she added, freshman sports "is not an item that the Board of Education requested."

Philips voted down the amended budget along with Republicans Craig Budnick, Matt Catalano and Chris Barnaby. Santi and the other five Republicans on the Council voted yea, which was enough to pass the ordinance.

"I overall disagree with the priorities put in place with this budget," said Philips. She said instead of adding the $40,000 to schools, the money should go toward the animal shelter and community services, both of which requested a $17,000 increase to the funding proposed by Mayor Harkins.

"I support more money for the dog pound," Santi said. "But there's not enough votes to pass it."

At a public hearing on the budget in April, members of the Stratford Animal Rescue Society to add $17,600 to what the mayor had penciled in for Stratford Animal Control. They said without the increase, which is mainly for part-time salaries, the new animal shelter on Beacon Point Road is "set up to fail."

Paul Hoydick (R-10) said bringing back freshman sports at and high schools is an achievement that will impact some 300-plus students in town.

At the same hearing where animal volunteers rallied for animal control, several residents advocated for put forth by the mayor. The Council actually ended up adding $2,500 to the library's budget, which apparently will go toward paying workers to come in on Sunday. 

Other highlights/talking points:

  • Quote from Santi: "One of the main reasons I'm voting [yes] is because it saves Franklin School." Before the mayor proposed his budget, there was long talk about .
  • Quote from James Connor (R-8) directed toward Philips (hear clip in attached video): "If you would have come to us and said, 'I could support an x, y, z,' [but] you didn't, you left it all up to us. That's all I have to say." Connor called Philips' actions “disingenuous" and said this is the third year the councilwoman has voted against the budget.
  • Quote from Philips on police department: "We are still operating at minimum capacity .. in January we'll look at each other and say it's the union's fault .. we should hire one or two more officers so we can control OT."
  • Employee benefits: The Council's amended budget cut $50,000 from an employee benefits trust. The account is in part a way to measure the town's credit-rating. The school board's portion of the budget includes .
  • The largest altered increase on the town side of the budget was a $25,000 boost to "sidewalk maintenance."
  • The $15,000 allocated to the account below titled Blight (Other Contingency) will go toward cleaning up foreclosed properties, according to Santi.
Department Account Mayor's Proposed Funding

Council's Increase /Decrease

New Approved Funding Amount Employee Benefits Medical Insurance $13,000,000 ($222,000) $12,778,000 Planning & Zoning Payroll $276,471 ($57,600) $218,871 Contingency Callback $1,700,000 ($50,000) $1,650,000 Employee Benefits OPEB Trust $500,000 ($50,000) $450,000 Council Clerk Council Contingency $15,000 ($2,500) $12,500 Public Works Engineering Sidewalk Maintenance $63,000 $25,000 $88,000 Town Attorney Blight (Other Contingency) - $15,000 $15,000 Police Admin Emergency Management $35,000 $15,000 $50,000 Agencies Stratford Sister Cities $500 $2,500 $3,000 Library Sunday Hours (Payroll) $1,734,791 $2,500 $1,737,291 Public Works Parks Mtls (Agricutural Supplies) $16,000 $2,500 $18,500 Public Works Parks Fencing $21,000 $2,500 $23,500 Public Works Parks Field Maintenance $75,000 $2,500 $77,500 Public Works Parks Waterfront Maintenance $6,000 $2,500 $8,500 Public Works Parks Playground Maintenance $14,700 $2,500 $17,200 Town Expenses ($309,600) Board of Education Total BOE Allocation $93,952,529 $40,000 $93,992,529 TOTAL EXPENSES ($269,600)
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 09, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Ah, contractual services must be where you say the money goes to public works. I see the spike there. Like I said, I'll see if I can get some concrete answers tomorrow.
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 09, 2012 at 09:17 PM
FYI: I've added the mayor's proposed budget as a PDF to the photo gallery. Water Pollution Control's budget starts on slide 91. Sewer use fees will increase 31.8 percent (slide 93). Jezebel282, Where are you getting 50 percent from?
JibCT May 10, 2012 at 02:02 AM
So Ken Poisson voted to approve a budget that has 40k allocated (if that is possible) for freshman athletics. It must be nice to be able to vote on and give money to programs that will directly impact both he and his wife in their positions as athletic coaches for the town. No conflict there. Nope. /sarcasm
George E. Mulligan May 10, 2012 at 03:43 AM
STARS and Dog shelter have legit love for animals. Tax Payers Budget: political dogs eat (unconnected) dogs. . NOTICE NO MENTION of 4 MILS to PAY ANNUAL PENSIONS of $ 19,000,000 (Million & soon to rise $ 1 Million) 1 Mil is $ 4.5 Million x 4 Mils = $ 19 Million. . Approximately 620 Pensions, with 270 over $ 30,000 annually. I believe NONE would get over $ 25,000 annually if it was a Defined Contribution Pension. Paper trail show dramatic increase in ranking Police, Fire, and other management about the time Attorney Fees started (1996 > 2001) up! Many of the HIGHEST ANNUAL PENSIONS are MANAGEMENT who are SALARY in PRIVATE INDUSTRY. HIGHEST ANNUAL PENSION are HIGHER than 1) BASE PAYS 2) NET - Lifetime Pension Contribution 3) GROSS - Lifetime Pension Contribution - JASON do you have a PENSION where you can contribute $ 95,000 TOTAL over 27 years, with your highest ever end SALARY-BASE of $ 84,850 and ANNUAL PENSION $ 134,050? - ANNUAL PENSION - $ 134,050 NET - Lifetime Pension Contribution - $ 95,000 - ANNUAL PENSION - $ 134,050 BASE PAY - $ 84,850 - ANNUAL PENSION - $ 134,050 x 30 years = $ 4,050,000 NET - Lifetime Pension Contribution - $ 95,000 - Is it Humpty Dumpty PONZI Pension? - Jason Please investigate and confirm or show errors? Thank you
Jezebel282 May 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Jason, My mistake. I was looking at the 2010 bill. But if you use the 2011 bill the increase is 34%. A 34% increase remains a whopper. As for "plant upgrades" there is only $38,360 above the previous year budgeted for that. With homes and businesses lying vacant in Stratford and, to be frank, nothing on the horizon that indicates an influx of new residents or businesses, what sort of "upgrade" could be planned? Nonetheless, these amounts ($600K, $450K, $300K) are arbitrary expenses forced upon the WPCA by this administration. They are not going into some "special fund". According to the Administration's own budget, they are going right into the General Fund. Just like a tax. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It is an accounting issue. (While you're at it, ask where the revenue numbers for Short Beach Golf Course are. Hiring a "professional" and raising greens fees were supposed to make a few bucks. How's that going?)
Craig Budnick May 10, 2012 at 03:04 PM
JibCT, While I can not defend the "Yes" vote of Ken and my fellow Council members, I do feel the need to defend him here. Outside of his paid job for the school system, Ken and his wife have donated vast amounts of time to the youth of this town. If that is your definition of conflict, then Ken also voted to take money out of his own pocket by raising taxes. In that same vain all of the Council persons have a conflict as the budget directly impacts our pockets as Stratford residents. I think Ken should be thanked for his volunteer service instead of criticized for an unavoidable conflict......please remember they voted for a $191 Million Budget not just $40K for Freshman Sports. Personally I think the question everyone should be asking is why that 40K was inserted into the education budget when the BOE did not ask for it. Craig Budnick 7th District Town Council
Jim Ravis May 10, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Please explain why YOU (Craig Budnick) voted to approve the WPCA increase... you know the $1.35 MILLION in additional “cost”. Have Ken tell us his reason as well.
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 10, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Here's what Councilman Jason Santi (D-4) had to say about the $40,000 in amended funding for the schools, seemingly for freshman sports: "As I understood it, I believe what happened is, over the years the BOE has had many tight budgets. One thing that may have been cut out in the past is certain freshmen sports. My understanding is there were parents of school aged kids inquiring about trying to get this program somehow reinstated. Since there seemed to be a number of inquires and support for freshmen sports-it would probably be a good idea to restore them. This item will benefit kids who may not have the money to pay for sports. It seemed like a good idea for this to be restored."
Craig Budnick May 10, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Jim, Could you tell me what vote you are referring? Jason, While I appreciate and respect Jason's opinion, as a newcomer I was under the impression that only the BOE was able to line item their own budget. Which leaves me curious as to how many phone calls it takes to get $40K added? Apparently the Animal Control people and Community Services did not have enough but Freshman Sports did. Democracy works in strange ways sometimes. Craig Budnick 7th District Town Council
Jim Ravis May 10, 2012 at 05:23 PM
@Craig Budnick This.... http://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/down-the-drain/
Craig Budnick May 10, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Jim, Thank you for clarifying so I may respond by saying.....to this date of May 10th 2012, I have not voted for or approved a rate hike for sewer use and anything that may have been contained in the budget, I was a "NO" vote. Please in the future do not publicly misrepresent my position on any issue. I will be more than happy to respond via email if you have questions on where I stand. You have indicated above that I voted for this, I did not. Thank you, Craig Budnick 7th District Town Council
max May 10, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Count on my vote flushing many incumbents "down the drain" next election. Also there are many who volunteer their time to town youth and don't look for political "payback".
Jim Ravis May 10, 2012 at 06:08 PM
@Craig Budnick So given the following list, please indicate who approved this increase, and who did not approve it. WPCA Committee: Christian Barnaby – Chairman Stephanie Philips Matthew Catalano Jason Santi John Dempsey Kenneth Poisson Craig B. Budnick James Connor, Jr. Joseph Kubic Paul Hoydick
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 10, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Craig, Can you tell me what meeting this issue was voted on so that I may look up the minutes? Thank you in advance.
Craig Budnick May 10, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Jim.....since the vote has not happened yet, i can not do that for you. Please feel free to come to the meeting when we do vote.
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 10, 2012 at 09:52 PM
The WPCA Committee will need to hold a special meeting where they will vote on this sewer use fee increase. They will probably do so the week of the 21st or the 28th, according to Finance Director Susan Collier. Because membership of this committee includes all Town Council members, it won't need another vote to be approved after the WPCA Committee, Collier said. I also spoke with the mayor's chief of staff today. More to come on this proposed 34 percent increase ($280 to 375) tomorrow.
Jezebel282 May 10, 2012 at 11:28 PM
We can hardly wait to hear this one...
Jim Ravis May 11, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Thanks for the offer "Mr. Stratford". I would like to think that this increase would fall through, but with the 2013 budget just approved, and these monies are an integral part of it, the sewer increases will be approved. I am not really sure who the council members speak for, because they certainly don't represent what Stratford's residents want.
Noreen Calgreen May 11, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Thanks Jason
Craig Budnick May 11, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Jim.....In the future, please do your homework before criticising people in public. Once again, I voted NO on the budget. Max.....It would be great if someday you were able to give your full name. I enjoy reading all the advice you have to give. Someone as knowledgable as yourself should step up to the plate someday and run for office. You always seem to know what is best for the town. Just like Jim, please get your facts straight. Ken is not receiving any political "payback" as you call it that I am aware of. I welcome naysaysers like yourself to actually give details of your criticism. So Max.....please do us a a service and let the taxpayers know what Ken is receiving for his vote. I would like to know what YOU have done to benefit the youth of Stratford or the town and look forward to your response.
max May 11, 2012 at 10:53 AM
I have volunteered for the town on many projects since the 1990's and have worked with both high schools as a volunteer for major programs. I don't look for pats on the back or money in my pocket when offering my services. I don't have the need for power to run for office. However we as citizens in the US have a right to voice our opinions, it's called freedom of speech. I also pay my taxes each year to fund the town's budgets, have done so for 30+ years.
Craig Budnick May 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Max.....Once again you have failed to provide details on who is putting "money in my pocket". Wow....at least you know the first amendment exists, I am impressed. The town thanks you for your service and paying your taxes. You don't need the power yet someone needs to volunteer for these jobs to help run the town. I have a feeling that you are someone who will criticise anyone that is in office and you have the right to do so. I look forward to a positive comment from you someday if you feel there is anything we are doing right. Probably not, as you will be too busy talking about potholes and corrupt politicians you are going to flush.
Jim Ravis May 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Mr. Budnick - Looking back in my comments I never said you voted for the budget. I only mentioned as a member of the WPCA, you had approved the sewer fee increase. I stand corrected since this "approval" has not been given - yet. There is still a chance to redeem yourself by not approving the increase. I look forward to reading and hearing about the outcome in the next few weeks.
Mike Reynolds May 11, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Mr. Budnick, please do not fall into the trap of the Party of Miron by using the, "use your real name" or "run for office yourself" line. That only cheapens your stance on any matter. If someone is engaging you in reasonable debate on matters pertaining to the town it doesn't matter what name they are using. The issues are the issues. Trying to deflect using excuses merely raises more suspicions. I'm sure you are aware as anyone that the taxpayer is highly suspicious of politicians these days. Transparency and honesty are the only ways to allay suspicions. Although you voted against the budget I think many of us have a hard time believing that the Republican majority on the WPCA committee will vote down the sewer usage fee since it is an integral part of the overall budget.
LeslieLight May 11, 2012 at 03:52 PM
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated --- Gandhi The 40,000 given to "sports" could have been split 23,000 for the "sports" and 17,000 to the hard-working animal shelter people, who, very eloquently, made their case for requiring the 17,000 in funding.
Jim Ravis May 11, 2012 at 04:25 PM
@LeslieLight - In Stratford, it's not what is right - it's what is politically correct (and best for your career).
George E. Mulligan May 13, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Budget vote: Catalano & Budnick: unqualifed NO votes. . Barnaby qualified: NO stating promised constitutents NO INCREASE. . Philips qualifed NO vote, wanting HIGHER BUDGET or/and REPRIORITIES. Spending towards Democrat constituencies: poor, fixed income, needy, & lesser sympathetic. . POISSON & wife may be great people/community pillars! Should he ABSTAIN from A N Y VOTES affecting His & wife's livelihood, per (former?) Town Charter: "NO Town Councilor compensated by the Town, while on Town Council." > ETHICAL CONFLICT of INTEREST? . Stephanie has relationship with Town Management. . Paul Hoydic's wife is PAID State REP. Paul's family is on Committees. . John Dempsey relatives: Town Council Committees. . Kevin Kelly *PAID STATE REP *PAID TOWN ATTORNEY - Partner to TOWN ATTORNEY Bishop *PAID over $ 650,000 during MAYOR MIRON years under BURTURLA *Ran against MAYOR MIRON - ex BENEFACTOR for STATE REP . Assistant Town Attorney John Florek: 1) PAID Assistant Town Attorney during MAYOR MIRON years under Town Attorney BURTURLA 2) - CHARTER REVISION # 2 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN in which Town Attorney BURTURLA opined that STRATFORD likely does NOT have REVISED TOWN CHARTER, but a WHOLE NEW TOWN CHARTER, ergo the PUBLIC'S RIGHT to "PUBLIC INITIATIVE" to generate REFERENDUM is likely LOST. (Only 1st Amendment) 2) Conflict? Florek 1991 Town Attorney: "PUBLIC INITIATIVE REFERENDUMs" * 2% Budget CAP * Term Limits * Prohibit: FINANCIAL SELFINTEREST
George E. Mulligan May 13, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Does Attorneys in Town make money indirectly from other Attorneys, who make money from Attorneys, who make money from other Attorneys who make money from Attorneys who make money from stratford or Board of Education? - 1) Town Council Chairman Kubek: Lawyer? 2) Pension Lawyer Tom Cotter: former Attorney,worked in State of CT. CT employ & worked for Berchem, Moses, & Devlin for 1+/- year, * Assistant Town Attorney Burturla: FULL (un-named) PARTNER. Esquire Cotter on Disability Review Board: which approves / denies Town Workers disabilities retirements. > $ 19,000,000 annually now to retirees, and was $ 2 million before 1996 when Burturla's firm first started getting paid about $ 10 million todate by Town and BoE, depending on reliability of figures. 3) Esq. Kevin Kelly likely PAID over $ 3 million since 1999-2000? 4) Florek doesn't get PAID much directly by Town - maybe $ 50,000 yearly? makes one wonder if there are back doors? 5) Esq Proto was State of CT Attorney. His wife happens to be principal of a magnet School 6) Check Berchem website with remarkable 26 BoE I believe Florek's & Burturla's wives are Teachers. Did Berchem get BoEs because BoE Management & Teachers don't get much money for Pay, Benefits, & Retirements? Or are Berchem an example major problems caused by certain feeder firms, as some allege? . Connors HR Bpt Fitting. Any Fed/State/Political Contracts? . Santi qualified his YES VOTE - MAYBE NO CONFLICTS of INTERESTS?
George E. Mulligan May 13, 2012 at 04:45 AM
I wonder why NO ONE explains 1) NORM ALDRICH alleged $ 70 k annually? - TEAM STRATFORD paid $ 11 million over 10 years to market AVCO. 2) ex-Town Councilor 3 times, which was the limit, then circumvented 1991 Referendum on term limits to become Town Council Chairman. > Owns a company which refurbishes Fire Trucks > Distributor SMEAL Manufacturer > Where did HARKINS - MALLOY buy FIRE TRUCKS? - 2 BONDED by Henrick Cown Council. Did "emergency" circumvent bid process? Sept 12 town Council BONDED another Fire Truck = night I was POISONED? . Tom Mallow reputed 1st cousin to Governor Dannel Malloy. Harkins was given $ 7500 for UNVOUCHERED expenses, (part of $ 21,000 extra PAY over $ 90,000 Base Pay (23.3%) . Henrick ex-Town Council Chairman: ZONING. Henrick, Julian, O'Neil and others are in Construction Harkins owns appraisal co. Gavin Forester CFO Insurance Company: Coastal. Tom Malloy owns RISK MANAGEMENT, deals multiple gov levels? I believe Finance Sue Collier husband: Stratford Fireman Ex-finance Linda LoShiavo husband Joe: Deputy Police Chief > Pensions increased 60 % exPolice Chief John Burturla: Brother 1996-2012 Town Attorney office Richard Burturla. CT STATE POLICE Homeland Security head, as Lieberman Chaired Senate Committee exPolice Chief Mike Imbro's brother in law: ex-Town Councilor Tom Moore, (State Police retired) CT Police LT Schirillo ex-Town Council, exDTC Chair, extra $ liaison Homeland. . NO CONFLICT INTEREST?
George E. Mulligan May 13, 2012 at 11:39 PM
"BOOK EM, Dano!"

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